Computer-Aided Qualitative GIS: A Software-Level Integration of Qualitative Research and GIS

A growing number of geographers are conducting mixed methods research involving the integration of quantitative and qualitative data in GIS. Contributing to these efforts, this chapter describes software-level modifications that adapt GIS to enable inclusion of qualitative data as well as interpretive codes associated with these data. These innovations enable GIS to serve as a platform for dynamically integrating quantitative and qualitative data throughout the analysis process. Further, this chapter shows how GIS may be meshed with computer-aided qualitative analysis software (CAQDAS) to support inductive interpretive analysis. The value of GIS is in its ability to represent both qualitative and quantitative data along with their spatial information, and the value of CAQDAS lies in its ability to provide better means of storing, managing, and analyzing qualitative data. The system described here enables researchers to take advantage of all of these capabilities as they are working with multiple forms of data. Further, the linkage between GIS and CAQDAS that I have developed enables researchers to carry out many different forms of analysis, such as exploratory data visualization, conventional forms of spatial analysis, grounded theory, and other approaches.